A guide for protecting workers from noise in construction. Permanent hearing loss is a common result of prolonged exposure to high levels of noise. Once incurred, this type of hearing loss cannot be corrected by surgery or through hearing aids.
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Construction workers are at particular risk due to the many noisy operations conducted routinely at construction sites.
Noise exposure not only damages hearing but also reduces productivity, and contributes to accidents by preventing workers from hearing warning signals.
To Prevent Loss of Hearing
Hearing loss, and noise related accidents and health problems can be prevented if proper precautions are taken.
* Workplace noise levels should be maintained below 85 dBA as an 8-hour time-weighted average, according to OSHA.
* Regular exposure to 85 dBA or more for 8 hours results in damaged hearing.
* It can take as little as 1 hour per day of repeated exposure to 100 dBA or more to damage hearing, often permanently.
A variety of control strategies can be employed to reduce noise levels, including:
- Building sound barriers
- Using quieter equipment
- Properly maintaining all equipment and tools
- Scheduling noisy activities when fewer people are working
- Placing noisy equipment further away from most of the workforce
However, where such measures are not enough, workers need to be provided with proper hearing protection.
There are many different types of hearing protection. These include:
- Canal caps
- Reusable earplugs
- Roll down foam
* Workers should be trained to recognize different types, select them according to relevant noise conditions, and wear them properly so they are fully effective.
* Per OSHA regulations, employers are responsible for selecting, fitting, and maintaining hearing protective devices. They are also required to provide such equipment to their employees at no cost, and to train workers in their use.